04/30/2009 04:13 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Tips for Sleepless Mariah Carey

I'm not usually the sort to wade through celebrity gossip pages, but this one came across my desk because it is, well, directly related to my area of expertise... and I am compelled to reach out and offer some advice.

Word travels fast: no sooner did Mariah Carey Twitter about her sleep problems did her issues show up on various websites. Here's what she apparently wrote on her Twitter page:

"I just finished working out. Whooo! Quite naturally, 'its 5am and I still can't sleep' Who's up? Nick is too cute when he's sleep! I wish he didn't have to work tomorrow so he could help me sleep all day and I could sing all nite [sic]!"

How many red flags can you find in that tweet? Did she work out just before 5 AM and is only now trying to go to bed while the rest of the world (and the sun, let's not forget) is about to get up? And does she normally live like a vampire--going to bed in the morning and getting up in the evening to sing all night long?

There's nothing "quite naturally" about any of that. Her body is rebelling, thrown totally off key (pun intended) by the crazy break in its natural rhythm that wants to sleep at night and sing during the day. I help lots of jet setters and shift workers who struggle with weird working hours and blocks of time when they do, in fact, live during the night and sleep during the day due to their job.

Being a rock star (or singing sensation or pop queen or however you categorize Ms. Mariah is your choice) has its downsides. The music industry has to be one of the worst fields to work in if you love your sleep. I honestly don't know how some musicians do it when they travel constantly across continents and time zones--going from one late-night show to the next. And I have no idea how someone living on such a schedule can find time to exercise. It's hard enough for the rest of us. 

The three simple things Mariah should heed:

  • Exercise can be stimulating for some people, making it hard to fall asleep soon thereafter. She might want to try scheduling in her exercise earlier in the day (er, I mean night--maybe before her show?). Or exercise first thing after waking.
  • Jumping right into bed and expecting to fall asleep quickly is unrealistic. It can take time for the body to unwind and prepare for sleep. This is when having good sleep hygiene is key.
  • Consider re-calibrating the body clock for the short-term when there will be days when she expects her body to keep up with an unusual sleep-wake cycle.

I wonder how her hubby fares once Mariah gets into bed. Does his sleep get disturbed? And when he rises, does it disturb Mariah? Ah, the joys of marriage. Hopefully they can synch up their schedules once in a while to enjoy one another.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, FAASM

The Sleep Doctor

This article on sleep is also available at Dr. Breus's official blog, The Insomnia Blog.